Sunday, September 7, 2014

Hot Enough For Ya? The Life of Stephane Grappelli and "Hot Jazz"

by Joe Peterson, violinist



There is a common misconception that violinists have to start playing at age 6 or younger to get anywhere. Nope. Not true. We have a guy who bought a cello from us, and he started playing at age 70. But unfortunately, people like him aren't the ones all over YouTube. Many aspiring young violinists get discouraged after seeing wunderkind perform; maybe they have tiger parents, maybe they are geniuses (genii?), or maybe they have just a few more years under their collective diaper. Regardless, hope should never be lost! Stephane Grappelli, one of the greatest jazz violinists of all time, was not about that young life. He first picked up a violin at age 12, and his earliest teachers were the mean streets of Paris! By this I mean he was largely self-taught; he'd go and listen to various buskers and copy what he liked.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Joachim and Brahms - It was a love hate sort of thing

By Joe Peterson and Andy Fein



If you were best friends with Brahms, you might hold onto that relationship through all the ups and downs of life. Not so for violin virtuoso Joseph Joachim. A rift between them lasted for years. And it was only a double concerto that could heal the rift.



Saturday, June 28, 2014

Ginette Neveu, and the Tour that Never Happened

by Andy Fein and Joseph Peterson


Ginette Neveu, noted for her power, intensity, and impeccable sonority, was one of the best violinists of the early twentieth century. To put things in perspective, she beat the 27 year old David Oistrakh at the Henryk Wieniawski Violin Competition when she was only 15. (Coincidentally, that was the same year that Ida Haendel placed 8th at age 7!)

Ginette Neveu was born on August 11, 1919 in Paris, France, and she began taking lessons from her mother at the age of 5. Only two years later,

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Why Violins Aren't Viol

by Andy Fein and Joe Peterson

At a glance, violin family and viol family instruments are very similar. They are both made of wood, both are played by bowing the strings, and both names share the same first four letters, but do not let that fool you! There are plenty of factors that separate violins from viols.
The head of a tenor viol, made circa 1693 by G.Karpp

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Choosing Strings to Improve Your Sound

by Andy Fein, violin maker & Diane Houser, professional violinist/violist and private teacher

There are so many strings on the market and each type of string has its own characteristics, which can dramatically alter your instrument's responsiveness, volume, playability and overall tone quality.  Since every instrument is unique and will respond differently to different strings, experimentation is key, but how do you choose? Where do you start?

 Your playing style can make a difference, as strings that are suitable for a bluegrass fiddler may not be suitable for a classical violinist.

There is a lot of confusion about strings, since there are no universal gauge or tension standards for manufacturers to follow, so let's clear up some of the mystery and take the fear out of experimenting with strings by explaining some basic terms. Hopefully this will allow you to make confident and informed string choices which will improve the sound of your instrument.

A 'Dominant' Violin D String under the microscope.